Practical Winery
65 Mitchell Blvd, San Rafael, CA 94903
phone: 415-453-9700 ext 102
email: Office@practicalwinery.com
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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2009
GRAPEGROWING
Vineyard Pruning and Thinning
Vineyard pruning and thinning practices may increase soil carbon storage if the extracted biomass remains in the vineyard. Similarly, the dropping of fruit can be a valuable carbon input. Removal of dead vines represents a loss of carbon storage unless the vines are chipped and left in the vineyard.
Hedgerows and Native Vegetation
Planting hedgerows and conserving or restoring natural vegetationmay substantially reduce the vineyard GHG footprint. Carbon
stored in these woody long-lived plants can represent a large source of sequestered carbon, significantly decreasing overall GHG emissions.
Oak woodlands, for example, store huge amounts of above- and belowground carbon over their lifetime. Moreover, hedgerows and native vegetation within the vineyard landscape decrease the collective environmental impact of viticultural activities by decreasing soil erosion and the leaching of fertilizers into surface and groundwater.
Summary
Table I shows the relative impact of vineyard practices on the atmospheric GHGs – CO2, N2O, and CH4 – according to scientific understanding. While more research is needed to address knowledge gaps and better understand how practices definitively impact the carbon footprint, Table I can help practitioners identify and consider practices to continually enhance reductions in their vineyard carbon footprint.

Development of third-party certification
SWP certification
Given the market and regulatory climate, CSWA has determined that an option for third-party verification of SWP participation is an appropriate next step in the evolution of the program and to maintain the California wine industry’s leadership position and commitment to transparency. Certification can serve as a tool to speed adoption of sustainable practices, communicate with stakeholders that are increasingly interested in sustainable business practices, and increase transparency and ensure confidence of progress on these activities.
CSWA’s certification program aims to advance the industry as a whole. It is intended to be a catalyst for continual improvement and to support the entrance of members at all stages of the sustainability journey to participate and benefit from the program, while enhancing the credibility of the program through third-party verification.
Because optimal economic, environmental and social performance differs depending on region, product, business size, and other issues, measuring continual improvement to one’s own baseline performance is a highly efficient and effective way to advance an industry towards sustainability. Through certification, participants at all levels of achievement would be able to receive thirdparty verification that priority areas for improvement are being identified through self-assessment and subsequently acted upon.
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he California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) is currently developing a third-party certification program related to the California Sustainable Winegrowing Program (SWP). The purpose of the certification programis to increase the sustainability of the California wine industry by promoting the adoption of sustainable practices and ensuring continual improvement.
The certification pilot phase was February to June 2009. CSWA hopes to launch the certification program in 2009. CSWA is undertaking an external stake holder outreach effort to ensure transparency and credibility of the proposed certification program.
SWP background
Building on major trends and successful regional efforts, the Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) launched the SWP in 2002 to give growers and vintners educational tools to increase adoption of sustainable practices and to measure and demonstrate ongoing improvement. Wine Institute and CAWG formed CSWA in 2003 to help implement the SWP.
The SWP is based on the “Cycle of Continuous Improvement” concept. Participants assess their operations using a comprehensive “Code of Sustainable
Winegrowing Practices” workbook, interpret their results using customized reports that benchmark their practices relative to statewide and regional averages, attend targeted education workshops to learn about best practices, develop Action Plans on areas they want to improve, implement change, and reassess, beginning the cycle again.
Nearly 1,500 vintners and growers — representing approximately 60% of the state’s wine production and vineyard acreage — have self-assessed their operations in 125 workshops and more than 5,500 have attended 160 targeted education workshops. Statewide Sustainability Reports, beginning with a 2004 Sustainability Report, document results, identify strengths and opportunities for improvement, and set goals to increase the use of sustainable practices. A 2009 Sustainability Report will provide in-depth analysis on the status of the industry relative to the improvement targets that were published in the 2004 Report.
The Sustainability Reports are available online. There are only two reports: 2004 and 2006.
Valuable input from a broad range of stakeholders was received during development of the Code. Expertise and resources are leveraged with government, academic, and non-governmental partners.